John 15 is not written about eternal security or the lack thereof for that matter. While the grammatical context is important in any passage of scripture, the historical context is even so much more important. Reading without taking into consideration the intended audience is a horrible mistake that makes much of the current interpretation totally irrelevant. It is with this in mind that I do this commentary on the fifteenth chapter of John's gospel.
Let me take a minute to lay out the historical context of this passage. First, let's identify the intended audience and the circumstances they found themselves in. Jesus was a Jew, born under the Mosaic Covenant, ministering exclusively to Jews who were practicing the Mosaic Covenant. It was written before the cross event so the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus had not yet taken place. God had sent first, John the Baptist, the last strictly Jewish Prophet to make the way for the Prophet, Priest and King, Jesus the Messiah (Christ.) As John explains earlier in this work, He, Jesus, came unto his own and His own did not receive him. Thus, the message of this gospel is spoken directly to Jews under the Old Covenant before the installation of the New Covenant. This is a most important distinction. For the remainder of this commentary I will make the scripture portion blue text that is in italics so that it can be easily distinguished from my commentary. The version of the scripture used is the CSB, the Christian Standard Bible, which is an offshoot of the Holman Christian Standard Bible. There are no perfect translations including the KJV as they all have their shortcomings. This one however is a good one and is easier to understand.
John 15:1-27 CSB “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener." Let's first examine Jesus reason for this statement. Isaiah chapter five starts out by speaking of the Lord's vineyard. In Isaiah 5:7 it is written that the men of Judah are his pleasant plant. In essence, the Jews in the first century were teaching that they were the Lord's vine. Jesus is correcting this by saying that He, as the promised seed of Abraham (Gal 3) was in fact the true vine.
(2) "Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit." So then, it is important to realize that God was looking for the fruit of faith from Israel. He wanted them to believe and receive the Messiah, His Son, that He had sent them. There are many references in the New Testament to plants not producing the fruit they were meant to produce. Look at the fig tree in Mark 11:13. Jesus cursed the tree for not having figs and the scripture tells us that it was not the season for figs. Have you never wondered why the tree was withered when it was not even fig season? It was a metaphor for the nation Israel. It was not the season for Israel to accept their Messiah. Paul explains in Romans chapters nine, ten, and eleven that Israel was hardened so that the Gentiles could be brought into the kingdom. He likewise assures in the same parenthetical passage that ALL Israel will be saved.
(3) "You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you." When Jesus says you are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you He is assuring them that they have already been pruned. This is a word of assurance so that they will not have to wonder about their fate. It was not just the word that he had spoken. It was what they did with it by faith. One cannot fool Jesus, he knew their hearts and when he assured them, they can rest assured
(4) "Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me." Jesus is telling them of a symbiotic relationship. They are in Him and He is in them. The fruition of Him being in them will come shortly after the resurrection. He is not saying remain in me as an instruction for fear that they will not remain in Him. Rather it is a way of explaining how they will continue in Him in His absence. Remaining in Him is continuing to believe the gospel. Paul said it this way in Col 2:6, they were to walk in Christ the same way that they received Him. They received Him by faith and they need to continue in Him by faith. The writer of Hebrews puts it another way with the same meaning. Heb 10:35 "Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward." Finally along this point we find that Paul explains it this way in Romans. Rom 14:4 "Who are you to judge another’s household servant? Before his own Lord he stands or falls. And he will stand, because the Lord is able to make him stand." This is all very assuring, telling them that they do not have to worry God will keep them abiding in the vine. This is the over-arching message of the New Testament.
(9) “As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love. (10) If you keep my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. (11) “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. (12) “This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you." Here Jesus is telling them what it means to obey his commands. Paul tells us that all of the commandments are rolled up in loving the other. Also, John in his first epistle spells it out exactly. He makes certain that his audience knows exactly what Jesus commands are. 1Jn 3:21-23 "Dear friends, if our hearts don’t condemn us, we have confidence before God (22) and receive whatever we ask from him because we keep his commands and do what is pleasing in his sight. (23) Now this is his command: that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another as he commanded us." First, we have Jesus telling them about the commandment to love one another. Paul agrees with that as I mentioned above and now John is telling those of his community that the commands are two. 1) Believe in the name of Jesus and 2) love one another. There is a precise operation to the ability to love and I will take that up a little later in this. For now, I'll say that there is a supernatural catalyst that causes the love and it is done FOR the one believing the gospel.